Saturday, 12 January 2013

2018 - The New 2014?

One of the overriding themes of climate change advocates is issuing never-ending warnings that we must do something by a certain deadline or else it's game over. Language that quite deliberately is supposed to scare us into acting irrationally. A notorious example is Prince Charles and his 100 months to save the world speech.

Sadly this seems to be a condition that also affects certain elements of the eurosceptic movement. Firstly this condition revealed itself in the assertion that if we don't leave by November 2014, then it would be impossible to do so due to changes in the voting system in the Council, regarding the exit clause of the Lisbon Treaty (Article 50). An assertion I debunked here.

Now it appears that a new 'scare' is popping up, in newspaper comments, and also for example via an email I received yesterday from Tim Aker of the Get Britain Out campaign linking to an article dated October 2012. The email said:
Time is running out and a vote in 2018 is unacceptable.  Article 16 of the Fiscal Union Treaty incorporates fiscal union into EU law by 2017.  We are bound by EU law and will find ourselves in fiscal union as a consequence.
Article 16 of the Fiscal Union Treaty states:
Within five years, at most, of the date of entry into force of this Treaty, on the basis of an assessment of the experience with its implementation, the necessary steps shall be taken, in accordance with the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union [Lisbon], with the aim of incorporating the substance of this Treaty into the legal framework of the European Union.
"With the aim" is not the same as "will", (despite what the Nevin Economic Research Institute says on page 13). In addition one would note by reading the 1st two pages that a certain country does not appear as a signatory - a "contracting party" as it is known - the UK. Then in Article 14, it makes clear that the Fiscal Compact only applies to those "whose currency is the euro". For those who don't use the Euro, Article 14 (5) applies:
This Treaty shall apply to the Contracting Parties with a derogation, as defined in Article 139(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, or with an exemption, as referred to in Protocol (No 16) on certain provisions related to Denmark annexed to the European Union Treaties, which have ratified this Treaty, as from the date when the decision abrogating that derogation or exemption takes effect, unless the Contracting Party concerned declares its intention to be bound at an earlier date by all or part of the provisions in Titles III and IV of this Treaty.
In short, it doesn't apply to those whose currency is not the Euro, unless they agree to implement it by choice or adopt the Euro as their currency. Regardless of whether this is incorporated into the Lisbon Treaty, the terms cannot be changed of the Fiscal Union Treaty without a new treaty or new agreement. The UK therefore would remain exempt. Get Britain Out then says:
This is new from Brussels and is a cynical way to get round vetoes or ‘no’ votes in referendums.  Instead, just incorporate it into the acquis or, better still, amend the Lisbon Treaty, which is a self-amending treaty.
A self-amending treaty, Lisbon is, but it's not as simple as that. Firstly the self-amending mechanisms are limited to what they can and can't do to the Treaty (and don't affect the exit clause) but as Article 48 (page 29) makes clear it cannot just change the Treaty on a whim as and when.

Article 48 has 'implicit' and 'explicit' clauses. All bar one are explicit, i.e. any self-amendment to the Treaty requires the UK Parliament's permission (along with the other 26 member states):
The amendments shall enter into force after being ratified by all the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.
Conversely the 'notorious' 48.7 clause is implicit; so basically Parliament always agrees to amendments unless it specifically objects within a certain time period:
Any initiative taken by the European Council on the basis of the first or the second subparagraph shall be notified to the national Parliaments. If a national Parliament makes known its opposition within six months of the date of such notification, the decision referred to in the first or the second subparagraph shall not be adopted. In the absence of opposition, the European Council may adopt the decision. 
Therefore as we can see from Article 48 the key point is that Parliament still has a say in any potential amendments to the Lisbon Treaty. That it can choose largely not to is a failing on its part not Brussels; impotence that is inline with every other EU treaty that it has passed.

Thus time is not running out, Brussels isn't forcing EU rule on us, instead the political establishment on our behalf choose it. Nothing can illustrate this better than the pickle Cameron has got himself into over his much awaited EU speech, as Richard North demonstrates.

Cameron wants us to remain members while pretending not to, adhering to the long tradition of the pro-EU values of the Conservative party. That's where our real enemy lies - at home, not some obscure clause in an EU Treaty.


  1. Very correct - I often wonder if the scaremongers are on our side, they do seem to get a lot wrong.

    It's almost as if they were diverting our attention from our real enemy - our own governments.

  2. I am an older gentleman and find dates very very confusional.